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Sermon On The Mount - Living in the Kingdom
By Pastor Delbert Young

10. Kingdom Honesty

(video audio page)

Kingdom Honesty

Scriptures: Matthew 5:33, Deuteronomy 10:20, Jeremiah 12:16, Leviticus 19:12, Matthew 5:33-37, John 8:44, Matthew 15:18-19, Matthew 5:37

Do lies grow? Are people wounded, lives injured, untrue things said and implied when we "fib?" A little fib never hurt anyone, right?

Today we look at being righteous in our honesty which is the fourth element of righteousness to which Jesus spoke.

NEGATIVE HUMAN TRAIT: Let's begin by seeing how many of us are truthful. If at any time in your life, you knowingly told an untruth or a partial truth, would you please stand along with me. Great - then this message is relevant and it's to us who are standing the Lord speaks today. As we can see, being untruthful is a negative human trait with which we all struggle from time to time.

DISHONESTY IS UNIVERSAL AND ALLOWED: How many believe that Saddam Hussein is being truthful about Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction? Does anyone on the planet believe him? Why is that? Why do we not believe him? It's because there is a horrible history concerning his honesty. However, though they know he is not being honest, the UN will allow him to lie. They will do nothing unless America presses. If America doesn't press, eventually thousands and even millions of American lives will be taken. We allow untruthfulness.

Today, it's no big thing when people are untruthful. A president of the United States can commit perjury under an oath with no serious consequences. We allow untruthful politicians to make all sorts of promises and when they do not fulfill the promises, we simply pass it by as no big deal. We allow dishonesty. Vendors make all sorts of claims about their products and when the products do not perform, no big deal. Why is that? Because we expect it and allow it.

Telling untruths is no big deal, right? Telling an untruth is a big deal to Jesus and his kingdom. Why does Jesus take it seriously? It's because dishonesty affects the lives of people. Dishonesty takes advantage and plays games with the lives of others. The ENRON executives did that. It is also serious to the Lord because it is a horrible witness for the believer. We are telling people that God approves of untruthfulness and he does not.

RELIGION DOES NOT MAKE A PERSON HONEST: It was interesting to me that it was to the most religious society in history to which Jesus addressed dishonesty. Religion doesn't cause people to be honest. The reason is because honesty is not a religious problem. Honesty is a heart problem (Mat 15:19). Honesty, or the lack of it, is from an attitude by which we direct our lives. Being a Jew did not secure a person's honesty. Being a Christian does not secure a person's honesty. I know a lot of people who say they are Christians, but have difficulty with truth telling.

FUDGINGHave you ever heard the term "fudging" as in not telling the truth? We played marbles in grammar school and a term we used when we crossed the line of the circle was "fudging." We call it getting the edge, getting a break, getting a jump, getting ahead. What we were really doing was crossing the line from honesty to cheating. We cross a line when we don't tell the truth. We see it as only fudging. In reality, we are crossing the line from the kingdom of heaven to the kingdom of darkness.

Have you ever wondered from where the term "fudging" came? There was a merchant ship captain in the 1600's whose name was Captain Fudge. Captain Fudge was a very charismatic man who was always excited about something and would excite others by exaggerations, little white lies, that sort of thing. So, Captain Fudge was nicknamed "Lying Fudge" for obvious reasons. Fudge was unable to tell the truth about anything. If it was a story about his success, it was always fudged to sound more grandiose than it really had been. If he had made a blunder, then he fudged the blame onto someone or something else. It was never his fault. He had the ability to fudge people into doing things, but sadly, nothing was truly the way he said and nothing ever worked out the way he said it would. Thus, the term 'fudging' came to be. Fudge became synonymous with lying.

I had a friend like that in high school. He was an extremely likable guy, but nothing was the way my friend said. He became a joke. We couldn't believe anything he said. His mother even warned us about things he would say. We all know people like my friend and Captain Fudge. Sadly, their lives literally become a joke, but being untruthful and dishonest is not a joke. People are injured. Games are played with lives. Dreams are shattered.

HOW ABOUT CHRISTIANS? Do Christians fudge? Let's find out. Have you ever fudged on your income tax? Christians may be the worst fudgers of all. We are in a position to be dishonest in the area of the most holy things. We "fudge" on the giving of tithes and offerings to the kingdom. God asked, "Will a man rob God?" (Mal 3:10). Will a person be dishonest with God? Will a man fudge on God? Oh yes! We rob from our Father. It's difficult even for Christians to be truthful. The saddest part is we know we are fudging, but continue.

VOWS AND OATHS: Jesus approached the issue of truthfulness by talking about oaths and vows. We call them promises and agreements. Here is what Jesus said.

Matthew 5:33 "Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.'

Jesus was referencing many Old Testament scriptures that speak about vows and oaths. Vows and oaths were encouraged as a witness to show others that a person was a child of God.

Deuteronomy 10:20 Fear the LORD your God and serve him. Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name.

Jeremiah 12:16 And if they learn well the ways of my people and swear by my name, saying, 'As surely as the LORD lives' - even as they once taught my people to swear by Baal - then they will be established among my people.

People were encouraged to swear by and make oaths in the Lord God's name. It was a great witness when people did what they said they would do. When people did not keep the oath or vow, it was a falsehood. It was a lie in the name of God. God was associated with a falsehood.

Leviticus 19:12 "'Do not swear falsely by my name and so profane the name of your God. I am the LORD.

The name of the Lord God was profaned (corrupted). It was a horrible witness.

I have told this story before, but it's worth telling here. Just after Judy and I moved to this area in 1986, we began playing golf together. We found this nice little golf course that we enjoyed. The gold course I played from where we moved gave a discount to preachers. One day I asked the owner of our new found course if he had a deal for preachers. He went irate. He cussed and said, "If I knew you were a preacher, I would have charged you more." Remember that was the years of the PTL and Swaggart struggles. I have never forgotten that because I attempted to use my relationship with Jesus to make a deal. When one Christian does a mess up, we are all marked.

The Pharisees were responsible for settling civil matters in the days of Jesus. It was a serious matter if God's name was used in a fudged transaction between people. They had profaned the Lord's name. However, if God's name had not been used, then that was not serious. So, people began using things associated with God such as heaven, or earth, or Jerusalem. If that wasn't convincing enough, they would swear by their own life or the lives of their children. They were not using God's name. That way they could break the agreement and not face legalities. It would be like my getting a loan from the bank and then putting my hand behind my back and crossing my fingers as I promised to pay the loan. By doing that I wouldn't be legally required to pay would be the thinking. What would the bank think of Life Gate? What would the bank think of me? The next time you told someone you went to Life Gate, what would the bank think about you? It was to that dishonesty that Jesus addressed his statement. Let's read the entire passage with "crossing fingers" and "swearing on something close to God" in mind.

Matthew 5:33 "Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.'

Matthew 5:34 But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God's throne;

Matthew 5:35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King.

Matthew 5:36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black.

Matthew 5:37 Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

LYING IS OF THE DEVIL: Let's make certain we get this. Anything beyond telling the truth comes from the devil - even fudging. "Little white lies," "stretching the truth," exaggeration, dishonesty no matter how we slice or dice, is of the devil. When I lie, fudge, cross my fingers, etc. I have crossed the line and spoken the devil's language.

John 8:44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

A lie is the language of the devil. Fibs do not come from outer space. Lies come from the evil one and from our heart. When I lie, I have allowed the devil to father what I say. The bottom line is that "Yes" should be "Yes" and "No" should be "No." If I need to grandiose or make excuses or swap blame, then there is a problem and the problem is my heart.

Matthew 15:18 But evil words come from an evil heart and defile the man who says them.

Matthew 15:19 For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, lying, and slander.

FIXING THE PROBLEM: Let's think about this a minute. There is a problem if I need to convince someone that I am telling the truth. What does my history speak about me? Why don't people believe me? Do you know why creditors do a "credit history" before giving a loan? It's because the way I have paid my bills historically will be how I pay this bill. My history determines if I am believable.

I can't do anything about my history if it were good or bad. I can start from this day on making my history. If I have been dishonest and untruthful and fudged then I must make certain that from this moment on my 'Yes' is 'Yes' and my 'No' is 'No.'

Dishonesty and being untruthful is a negative human trait. Lying is a universal problem, accepted, and allowed. Religion does not stop dishonesty. Christians fudge. We are literally lied to on every side. If we take this pill, we will burn off the fat. If we use this product to color our hair, we will look ten years younger and be beautiful with thick shiny hair. If we purchase this grill, we will become champion grill chefs. Exaggeration of truth, minimizing truth, cleaning up an untruth, coloring truth, stretching the truth, crossing our fingers, fudging, etc. has become an acceptable way of life. But let's remember who is the father of lies. Let's remember that dishonesty, no matter the size, is not acceptable in the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:37 Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

Where do you and I align with this point of righteousness? If we had a scale of one to ten with ten being absolute truth and one being purposefully misleading people, where would you be? Would it be eight or nine perhaps? That's not good enough. Jesus wants a 10 every day on every sentence.

That's Kingdom Honesty.

That's Living in the Kingdom.

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